Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Secret Garden

Recently, I was reminded of a spiritual practice that I have often used over the years. My teacher, Kathy Woods, was speaking of the idea of saying to the wounded child she once was, “I can help you now.” The idea is to go, as the adult self, to the child in whatever wounding situation that child may have experienced.

I have used this technique often over the years to help my own wounded inner child recover from childhood trauma. When, as an adult, those old feelings of fear, isolation, and helplessness threaten to overwhelm me, I comfort the child.

The technique I have used is more elaborate than the simple, “I can help you,” that Kathy suggested. My approach is a visualized meditation. I visualize a beautiful garden. It is fenced in with French doors opening from a safe house. There is a gate to this garden, guarded day and night, by a beautiful angel, who has long blond hair and a flaming sword. The garden is always in bloom with hydrangeas, lavender, roses and a thronging riot of abundance. There is a well tended lawn, perfect for a little girl to play.

I visualize little Janet playing there, blowing bubbles, enjoying the flowers, playing with a puppy. When that little-me is anxious or afraid, I envision the adult-me going to her, reassuring her that I am here now, that nothing can hurt her in the garden. When she is cranky and out-of-sorts, I see my adult-self erecting a beautiful open tent, hung with flowing white curtains. There are cushions in this tent, and I gently help little Janet curl up to rest. When she needs comforting, adult-me cradles her.

This visualization can be tailored to whatever works for you. If the garden feels like a safe place, use that. If it is a tree house, cave, beach, or mountain cabin that feels safe, use that image. Create a safe haven for your child-self, using your imagination. Help the child-self find activities which you remember with pleasure from childhood. Enjoy digging in the dirt? Give your child-self a shiny new shovel. Love trucks? Give your child-self a Tonka toy. Dolls? Put a cradle in the corner. Books? Place a small shelf with favorite childhood titles such as Treasure Island  or The Secret Garden. Safety, pleasure, authentic interests, comfort: these are the things that the adult-self can openly offer the child-self in this visualization.

The idea is for your adult-self to take responsibility for your own wounds. For most of us, those wounds began in childhood. For others, it may be the adolescent who needs guidance and comfort. Do whatever works for you. Use your imagination. Go to the child of your heart and, as an adult, offer that child the comfort and security she or he needed at that wounding time. Then offer your whole-self into the care of the divine, knowing that healing and grace are God’s deepest desire for you.


  1. What a beautiful image.

    I used to work for a puppet theatre. We did a production of A Christmas Carol that featured only 2 actors and an array of puppets. One of the scenes featured Ebenezer beholding his wounded child-self at the behest of the ghost. He picked up the small puppet that represented him as a boy and rocked it. Watching that adult literally cradle his wounded child-self made me sob. That image spoke so clearly to me then, and you post did today.

    Thanks Janet.